We had a good bit of sport over the astronomical prices paid this past summer for white truffles in New York restaurants. But what if their black cousins, long the déclassé branch of the family, became even more expensive? Or disappeared entirely? That wouldn’t be so funny. And it wouldn’t be good for the price of white truffles, which, like Beluga caviar and shark-fin soup, could become a purely plutocratic pleasure sooner than we expected. (Not that truffles are evil in the way of Beluga caviar and shark-fin soup; we’re just thinking of endangered luxury foods, you understand.) An article in USA Today suggests that the global warming is currently bringing the hammer down on black-truffle production and that (gasp) “France's black truffle will one day be just a memory.” It’s a similar story around the world, as fish stocks are depleted, ecosystems are knocked out of whack, and global demand for things like toro and truffles move beyond a small cluster of ascot-wearing bons vivants.
The position of chef remains overwhelmingly male, a fact we wrote about recently in the magazine, but maître d', the functional boss of the dining room, has been if anything even more so. That’s why the promotion of Maite Montenegro to head maître’ d' at Daniel this week is so notable. The maître d’ is the ultimate restaurant authority figure, the person that knows how to treat everybody and whom everybody trusts and looks to for guidance.
Daniel, arguably the grandest of the city’s top dining rooms is planning a rehab, though it won’t be until the summer. Though neither the restaurant nor its patrons are dissatisfied with the current room (and why would they be? It looks like the gateway to the afterlife, circa 1895!), the renovation will keep the place fresh. “Upper East Side ladies get their face-lifts before they’re needed,” spokeswoman Georgette Farkas tells us. “It's something we’ve been thinking about. But Daniel doesn’t want to do anything too revolutionary.” Farkas wouldn’t name names, but a source close to the restaurant says designer Adam Tihany, who did Le Cirque 3.0 and Osteria del Circo, is topping the short list of candidates. In the meantime, the Daniel empire has plenty to keep it busy: Bar Boulud is still slated for a December opening; Maison Boulud, in Bejing, will open in March; and Boulud’s downtown burger bar is, sadly, still unnamed.
Related:Exclusive: Feast Your Eyes on Bar Boulud, Coming in November
De Niro’s Tribeca Grill is the latest restaurant to be sued by ex-waiter complaining that managers skim tips. [NYP]
Kiwis consider the real key to Gordo’s New York success to be “Waikato farmboy” chef de cuisine Josh Emett. [New Zealand Herald]
New York’s little red book, the 2008 Zagat guide, is out today. It is more significant to the restaurant world than the Michelin guide, and for good reason: The same people who use it are the ones who write it. So what if it’s a popularity contest? Life is a popularity contest. There were some minor shakeups in this year’s rankings, such as Union Square Cafe retaking its sibling Gramercy as most popular restaurant, and Daniel retaking the top spot in cuisine from Le Bernardin. But the more interesting points required a slightly closer look.
Chef demonstrations tend to be pretty grim affairs, and the so-called “tastings” that come with it even worse. (Usually, it’s a sample of whatever horrible product the chef is currently hawking in groceries.) Tomorrow’s demo by Daniel Boulud at the Time Warner Center's Williams Sonoma, though, will be a rare chance to actually eat the chef’s actual food. The chef is promoting The Cafe Boulud Cookbook, but there's a bonus Bar Boulud tasting, too.
I am attempting to find establishments that have a table in their kitchens. I have a teenager who is interested in the industry and I thought this would be fun to do together!
An Encouraging Mother
Last night’s Top Chef claimed Tre Wilcox, the affable Texas chef and audience favorite. Acting as executive chef for Restaurant April, three of his dishes bombed and the judges reluctantly singled him out as the night’s loser. He spoke with us about his new female fans and why he thinks Hung will become this season’s Top Chef.